Foot & Ankle Affiliates
Eric J Abrams, DPM
Podiatry & Foot & Ankle Surgery located in Eatontown, NJ & Toms River, NJ
In their early stages, hammertoe may not be painful or cause problems, but if you don’t seek treatment, it can turn into a permanent contracture that may require surgery. At Foot & Ankle Affiliates, Eric Abrams, DPM, provides several effective and conservative treatment options during the early stages, and if surgery is needed, you can depend on his experience and exceptional surgical skills. To schedule an appointment for hammertoe, call one of the offices in Eatontown and Toms River, New Jersey, or use the online booking feature.
What causes hammertoe?
Hammertoe is a foot deformity that most often affects the second through fourth toes. The condition develops when the tip of the toe bends downward instead of pointing forward.
This abnormal bending occurs when the muscles controlling the toe’s movement are imbalanced. Muscles work in pairs, with one responsible for bending, and another muscle responsible for straightening the toe.
If your toe is forced to bend and remains in that position for an extended time, the muscles naturally tighten. As a result, the opposing muscle has a hard time pulling the toe back to its normal position.
Hammertoe is caused by:
- Second toe that’s longer than the big toe
- Narrow shoes that cramp your toes
- High-heeled shoes
- Inflammatory joint disease
- Neuromuscular conditions
- Joint instability
You’re also more likely to develop hammertoe if you suffered a toe injury or inherited a genetic tendency for the problem.
What symptoms develop due to hammertoe?
Hammertoe causes symptoms such as:
- Pain when wearing shoes
- Corns and calluses
- Limited or painful toe movement
- Redness and swelling at the joint
- Pain in the ball of your foot
As your hammertoe continues to bend or becomes more rigid, you’ll have a hard time finding shoes that fit.
How do you treat hammertoe?
When hammertoe first develops, the bent toe is still flexible. If you get treatment at this stage, Dr. Abrams can offer conservative therapies, such as:
- Padding and taping
- Shoes with a large toe box
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
- Medications to reduce inflammation
Splinting helps realign the toe, returning it to its natural position and giving the muscles time to heal and restore normal movement. Orthotics help relieve pressure and restore muscle balance.
Over time and without treatment, the muscles become rigid and your toe gets stuck in its abnormal position. This is called a contracture. When a hammertoe reaches this stage, you only have one treatment option: surgery.
Dr. Abrams has extensive experience performing several surgical techniques to straighten your toe. A few potential surgical options include a bone fusion or replacing rigid tendons with a healthy tendon.
Don’t wait to get treatment for hammertoe. Call Foot & Ankle Affiliates or request an appointment online.